Jewish Culture Festival in Krakow

 

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The Jewish Culture Festival in Krakow is one of the most important and largest events of its kind in the world. The First Festival took place in 1988 and its program focused on a scholarly conference on the encounter between two cultures, Jewish and Polish. It was a modest occasion but it turned out to have enormous significance, considering the boldness of the subject matter, upon which the communist authorities of the day looked askance.


Shaped by outstanding figures in various fields of Jewish culture and art, the Festival became over time a place where Jews and non-Jews from all over the world could meet. They are linked by the shared values that they find in Kazimierz and Krakow, the space of the Festival. For over a week, Kazimierz resounds with synagogue song, klezmer music, and Hasidic, classical, and Jewish folk music. There are films, performances, presentations, and exhibitions to see and stories told by the Jews about their culture to listen to.
In its present form, the Festival not only introduces the living Jewish tradition to a wide audience, but also offers a share of the joy in creating that tradition. Workshops in Hasidic dance and song, klezmology, Hebrew calligraphy, Jewish paper cutting and cooking, conducted by people from both Ashkenazy and Sephardic culture, attract numerous learners. Every year, the Festival puts on over 100 events featuring dozens of performers and thousands of participants from all over the world. During the most recent Festival, 13,000 people attended "Shalom on ulica Szeroka," the grand finale concert. The number of Festival guests grows from year to year, and television coverage brings the Festival to viewers across Poland and Europe and around the world. Each year, the Festival's celebration of life commemorates the past, traces of which can still be found in Kazimierz in Krakow.



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